Pubdate: Sat, 24 Jun 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Kristy Kirkup
Page: A3


OTTAWA - Six of the country's leading health organizations endorse 10
new cannabis recommendations designed to help reduce the risks
associated with Canadians using marijuana - which is set to become
legal in a year.

The guidelines, published Friday in the American Journal of Public
Health, include recommendations for people to avoid cannabis if they
are pregnant or at risk of mental health problems, as well as delaying
marijuana use until later in life and limiting consumption.

The guidelines also say driving under the influence of cannabis can
substantially increase the risk of being involved in an accident
resulting in injury or death, adding drivers should wait at least six
hours to get behind the wheel following use.

The suggestions flow from work conducted by the Ontario arm of the
Canadian Research Initiative on Substance Misuse - a national
initiative funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

An extensive body of scientific data form the basis for the
recommendations, Dr. Benedikt Fischer, a senior scientist for the
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health said Friday. He said the risk
to users can be modified by choices, including how much and what
people consume.

"One of the opportunities for us to improve public health related to
cannabis use is by influencing and providing users with informed
evidence on how to reduce risks," Fischer said.

The guidelines, which Fischer said have been endorsed by his
organization as well the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian
Public Health Association, the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine,
the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the Council of
Chief Medical Officers, will now be distributed to governments, health
authorities and public health agencies.

The public health researchers are realistic and accept the fact that
Canadians, especially young people, are among the highest cannabis
users in the world.

"We cannot just go on and preach the old story," he said, noting a
balance must be struck between preventing early use 1. Cannabis use
has health risks best avoided by abstaining. 2. Delay taking up
cannabis use until later in life. 3. Identify and choose lower-risk
cannabis products. 4. Don't use synthetic cannabinoids. 5. Avoid
smoking cannabis - choose safer ways of using. 6. If you smoke
cannabis, avoid harmful smoking practices. 7. Limit and reduce
cannabis use. 8. Don't use and drive or operate heavy machinery. 9.
Avoid cannabis use altogether if you are at risk for mental health
problems or are pregnant. 10. Try not to combine the risks above.
while giving people information on how to lower their risks as much as

"That's the balancing act and we have, now under legalization, not
just the opportunity but we have the responsibility to do that."

The government intends to bring the law into force no later than July
2018, Philpott said.
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